Charis Cotter is an award-winning children’s author who grew up beside a cemetery and has been living with ghosts ever since. She studied English in university and went to drama school in London, England. Now she lives at the end of a road by the ocean in Newfoundland, where the landscape and plentiful supply of ghosts inspire her work. Her first book, Toronto Between the Wars: Life in the City 1919–1939, won the 2005 Toronto Heritage Award. Since then, Charis has written books about kings, queens, child prodigies, famous authors and ghosts. Her spooky, suspenseful novels—The Swallow: A Ghost Story, The Painting and The Ghost Road—have won awards and enthusiastic reviews.
Charis has worked in schools and libraries across Canada, using drama and storytelling to bring her books to life. She has worked with Newfoundland students to collect traditional ghost stories from their communities and has published two books of these ghost stories, written and illustrated by the students. Newfoundland ghost stories continue to inspire her work and in 2020 she published Screech! Ghost Stories from Old Newfoundland and Footsteps in Bay de Verde: A Mysterious Tale. Her fourth novel, The Dollhouse: A Ghost Story, was released in August 2021 by Tundra Books. Her books have been translated into Korean, German and Russian.
An editor with twenty-five years’ experience helping writers bring their books to life, Charis works as a writing coach for writers of fiction, non-fiction, children’s books and young adult fiction.
Newfoundland Ghost Stories
A virtual school visit from Charis and a host of Newfoundland ghosts! She’ll take your students on a creepy tour of the most haunted island in the world, showing how traditional ghost stories reflect the landscape, culture and history of Newfoundland.
Charis had two new Newfoundland middle grade ghost books released in 2020: Screech! Ghost Stories from Old Newfoundland and Footsteps in Bay de Verde: A Mysterious Tale. Her presentation features stories from both books, a Q&A, a discussion guide and a ghost story challenge for students to collect their own ghost stories from families and friends. The virtual visits includes a Power Point presentation with illustrations from both books.
For some reason, Newfoundland has more ghosts than anywhere else. Ghosts in the ocean, ghosts on the barrens, ghosts in lighthouses, and ghosts at kitchen parties. Some stories go back hundreds of years, like the Old Hollies, said to be the victims of shipwrecks, who are heard screaming in the wind just before a bad storm. She tells a very old story about a ghostly longboat glimpsed in the fog near Baccalieu Island and describes an unsettling experience she had herself on the barrens one dark Newfoundland night. She ends with a spine-chilling account of ghostly footsteps in Bay de Verde in the 1920s.
Language Arts / Reading and Listening / Heritage and Culture / Spiritual Beliefs